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Multiple SIM card usage set to surge

3 minute read | March 2012

  • 71 million Unique Subscribers use multi-SIMs in India
  • 4 out of every 5 Multi SIM card users own a Single handset
  • Over 7 out of 10 multi-SIM card users* polled intend to acquire a dual-SIM phone soon

71 million subscribers use Multiple SIM cards across India, reveals a new study by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy. The survey found that among 14 percent of Multi-SIM card users who plan to buy a new handset, 75 percent would go for a dual SIM card handset.

The Nielsen study covers usage statistics of active multi-SIM card users in 18 Indian cities across population strata. Nearly 20,000 mobile users in the 18-55 age group were covered to arrive at these findings.

The study found that overall, 13 percent of unique active mobile subscribers^ use Multiple SIM cards. The reach peaks in towns with a population of five to ten lakh, where 21 percent of the populace use multi-SIMs. The corresponding figure in a town class with 40 lakh plus population is just 11 percent.

Youth: The driving force behind multi-SIM usage

On taking a closer look at the demographics, Nielsen has found that Multiple SIM card users tend to be younger – largely students, newly employed and working professionals.

“We have found that consumers are mostly driven by a desire for optimizing tariffs and taking advantage of better and cheaper deals offered by operators,” said Farshad Family, MD-Media, Nielsen India Region.

Another key finding is that for most Multi-SIM card users, there hasn’t been a significant increase in their monthly mobile expense despite maintaining two separate connections. For every 2 out of 5 multi-SIM users, expenses have remained consistent. Only 12 percent users have reported a substantial rise in costs.

Keeping a tab on costs

The study revealed that smaller operators have a relatively higher share among Multi-SIM card users. While Uninor has just 1 percent market share among mobile users, it goes up to 6 percent when it comes to Multi-SIM user share. Similarly, Aircel’s share too goes up a notch in the Multi-SIM card usage space.

A typical user has two SIM cards, but from different operators.

“What we found interesting here is that users prefer to keep both SIM cards as prepaid to have a better control on costs as well as to capitalize on monthly deals offered by operators,” says Family.

Dual SIM handsets gaining popularity

While several users chose to physically switch SIM cards in their phones, Dual SIM handsets are gaining popularity. The Nielsen study has found that 61 percent of handsets used by multi-SIM owners are dual SIM. Nokia leads the pack with a 30 percent market share while Samsung is a distant second with 16 percent. In fact, the popularity of dual SIM handsets is set to surge as 75 percent of Multi-SIM card users who plan to purchase a new handset, say they will go for a dual SIM handset.

* Among 14% of Multi-SIM card users who plan to purchase a new handset

^Made a call/recharged SIM at least once in last 90 days.

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence, mobile measurement, trade shows and related properties. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit